VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said last week in a letter to Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the panel’s chairman, that the secret list probably referred to “interim notes” that a Phoenix VA clinic developed “for reference purposes” while entering new patients into an electronic scheduling database.
Shinseki acknowledged that the VA destroyed the list, but he said federal law and VA policy require the agency to take such action with records that are “no longer needed for reference purposes.”
Miller has also promised legislation related to the scheduling controversy. He said last week that he would introduce a bill that would allow veterans to receive care at private-sector clinics if they wait more than 30 days for appointments. The VA would pick up the costs of treatment under that proposal.
The three VA officials scheduled to testify Wednesday are: Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Clinical Operations Thomas Lynch; Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Joan Mooney and Congressional Relations Officer Michael Huff.
Democrats and Republicans on the committee expressed frustration with the VA for not making the officials available to testify at a hearing last week. The panel has approved a motion to subpoena the employees if they do not appear Wednesday.
The VA complained that the committee provided only 15 hours notice before the hearing. But the department has agreed to have the officials testify Wednesday, according to committee staff.
The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m.